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A Guide to the Most Essential Books by Seth Godin

Marketing pioneer Seth Godin also happens to be a prolific author. Here’s a list of our favorite Seth Godin books and a few reasons why you should read them
by Jennifer Duffy | Jan 15 2020

Once described by Forbes as “a demigod on the Web,” teacher, author and marketing guru Seth Godin has been making waves in the business world since 1986.

Godin has written 19 bestselling books including Purple Cow and This Is Marketing, founded two companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne, has graced the TED stage three times, and has become arguably the internet’s most famous blogger. Now, we’re delighted to share that he’s partnered with us at Blinkist on our first author-led original content series. You can read more about our collaboration here and have a listen to this audio preview for a little taste of what’s on offer!

At Blinkist of course, we’re all about books, so to celebrate the launch of 2 Minutes with Seth Godin, we’ve created this rundown, in no particular order, of some of our favorites from his backlist. These titles offer insights on everything from the real meaning of success, to harnessing the power of marketing to find your tribe, to how you can change the way you work to make it work for you!

We Are All Weird (2011)

Once upon a time it was an insult to be called weird, but now, can you imagine the horror of being called normal? In this book, Seth Godin discusses how the mass market has declined due to the internet making it easier for us to form tribes around our more selective and ‘weird’ interests.

Communities no longer have to be local as we can connect with people all around the world who share our unique brand of weird. With a broader range of choices than ever before, consumers have more power which means that marketers have had to move away from standardized advertising, and be more specific about targeting their audiences. Godin says that the key to success is to ‘embrace the bizarre’ and lean into niche interests and passions.

The Dip (2007)

In The Dip, Seth Godin advises his readers to be prepared for the inevitable challenges they will face in their work and personal projects. According to Godin, you should focus on what you do best, strategically quitting anything that gets in the way of that.

You can maximize your success by focusing on the project you’re most passionate about and have a talent for. By working to your strengths, you are giving yourself the best chance of success. Embrace the challenge of the dip, knowing that your patience and grit will benefit you in the long run. This practice will help you build resilience, which will stand to you in the future.

This Is Marketing (2018)

Mass advertising is no longer effective, particularly in a world that is increasingly reliant on the internet. SEO (search engine optimization) is an important tool for marketing which uses keywords, e.g. directly extracted from search results, to hone in on target audiences. By identifying an audience’s needs and desires, you can market towards these.

Godin identifies two types of consumers: adopters and adapters. Adopters are receptive to change, whereas adapters are resistant to it. Target the adopters first—they will be keen to engage with new ideas, and will create buzz around those they like. This can create a network effect, where the number of people using a service increases its value.

The Icarus Deception (2012)

With the future becoming increasingly automated, it’s more important than ever for workers to be creative. The title of this book reflects the fact that we remember the warning from Icarus’ story about not flying too high, but in doing this we run the risk of flying too low. Godin encourages us to get out of our comfort zone.

He mentions the Japanese concept of kamiwaza—fully immersing yourself in an activity. To be successful you must recognize opportunities, and be dedicated to your work. He advises acting like an artist and committing yourself to your goals.

Poke the Box (2015)

Ambition can be more valuable than money or networks when it comes to starting new projects. Godin calls this instigation capital—taking initiative and making your dreams into reality. Failure will most likely be a part of this journey, but you shouldn’t let that stop you.

Poking the box means going for it, i.e.not waiting for permission or for the ‘right’ time. Keep innovating and experimenting, but be well-prepared when starting a new idea. By researching and putting in the groundwork, you will be ready to give your idea your all.

All Marketers Are Liars (2012)

This book examines how marketers spin stories and how they target customers. To market effectively, you must tell a story that is believable and authentic, which connects with your chosen audience. It’s best to find people with a similar worldview and make your story appeal to them. First contact points need to be close to your message so that you create a positive first impression. While harmless fibs are often a part of marketing, Godin cautions against fraud.

Tribes (2008)

Humans are drawn to being part of larger groups. These tribes have three common traits: a group of people, a shared cause and a leader (or leaders) who represent the group. The internet has enabled more tribes to develop, and broadened their scope—they no longer need to be local. Godin advises that communication needs to be horizontal (between tribe members) not just vertical (between leaders and members).

Purple Cow (2003)

Perhaps the best-known of Godin’s canon, this bestseller shows that the old ways of marketing are no longer functioning. In today’s marketplace, to stand out you need to create something exceptional—a purple cow. Godin initially created his own purple cow to market the book by packaging the first editions in milk cartons. The lesson? Marketing needs to be remarkable to stand out in a crowded marketplace, otherwise you may as well be invisible.

Permission Marketing (1999)

As far back as 1999, Godin recognized that interruption marketing such as television commercials had become less relevant, moving towards what Godin terms ‘permission marketing.’ This new model empowers the consumer in that they volunteer their attention to the advertiser and decide to learn more. Permission marketing can build up trust and create good customer relationships.

Added bonus: the internet makes this kind of marketing accessible to businesses of all sizes regardless of their budget. “Permission marketing is anticipated, personal, relevant” and more likely to generate sales.

Linchpin (2010)

Employees who merely follow instructions are replaceable and Godin advises readers not to be this kind of mindless drone. Linchpins, on the other hand, are indispensable to their companies. These people put in emotional effort and use their job as an opportunity for art. They have the ability to ship on time and bring discipline to their work. Once we get over the fear of stepping out of the norm, we can produce more and unleash our full ability.

Unleashing the Ideavirus (2000)

As well as word-of-mouth communication, we now have word-of-mouse communication. Ideas can go viral on the internet if they are properly marketed and targeted, and this is key to success in the modern marketplace. The modern economy is centred on ideas rather than products, and marketing is key to selling your idea to the world.

Godin also brings up sneezers, individuals or organizations who will spread new ideas. By getting these people on board, you can begin to build a network of people who are engaged with your product.

Free Prize Inside (2007)

This book, the sequel to Purple Cow, explores using bonuses as an incentive to entice customers to buy your product. Seth Godin advises using ‘soft innovations’, improvements to existing products or complementary products or services. These initiatives can be enticing to consumers, and draw people into trying out what you have to offer. This book shows practical ways to make your product remarkable, and create your own purple cow.

In 2018, Seth Godin was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame, and his books have been translated into over 35 languages, changing the way people think about the workplace all over the world. You can dive into all the titles mentioned here on Blinkist, and start learning more from this marketing guru and agent of change.

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